Family lead tributes following sudden death of former rugby player Johnny Walker (From Craven Herald)
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Family lead tributes following sudden death of former rugby player Johnny Walker
7:00am Thursday 24th January 2013 in News
The family of former rugby player John Walker say they have been overwhelmed by the cards and support they have received following his sudden death at the age of 44.
Father of three Mr Walker – known as Johnny – suffered a suspected heart attack at his home in Settle last week.
“He was a gentle giant and such an easy person to know,” said his sister, Gillian Curley. “We have been overwhelmed by the cards and support.”
The son of Richard and Luigina Walker, Johnny – who also had a brother – had lived in Settle most of his life, attending the town’s primary, middle and high school.
He spent a short spell at Langcliffe Paper Mill before concentrating on his rugby.
He honed his skills at North Ribblesdale, gaining a place in Yorkshire under 17s, 19s and 21s as well as the North of England team.
He moved on to play for Otley – where he met his wife, Sue – Keighley Cougars, Batley and Hunslet before finishing his rugby career back in North Ribblesdale.
Two of his three sons, Chris and Jack, currently play for Leeds Carnegie, while his other son, Lee, is a member of North Ribblesdale and plays football for Settle.
Johnny was a keen angler, acting as bailiff in Settle, played golf, enjoyed shooting and going out with his sons when he had time.
“He was a tremendous support to all his family in everything they did and, be it thousands of miles or just down the road, you could always count on him being there.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better brother,” said Gillian, A trained joiner, Johnny worked at Flemings at Long Preston before getting a joinery job at Giggleswick School more than 20 years ago. He worked his way to became properties manager and, along the way, gained a Bachelor of Science degree with honours from the University at Preston.
“I could not have asked for a more supportive, trusted and valued colleague,” said school bursar Giles Bowring. “He was good at his job and was very careful and meticulous in maintaining the buildings or planning for new work. He led by example.
“I could not have wanted for a better right hand man. He was an all-round good guy and his death leaves a terrific hole in the community.”
A funeral service will be held at Giggleswick School Chapel on Tuesday at 12.30pm prior to a private cremation.